Council of Europe Rejects Albanian ECtHR Candidates Again

For the second time, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) has rejected the list proposed by the Albanian government with three candidates for the Albanian seat at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg.

The government’s three proposals to replace the current judge, Ledi Bianku, whose mandate ended in March 2017, were Sokol Berberi, Aurela Anastasi, and Aleksandër Muskaj. Both Berberi and Anastasi had been authors of the judicial reform.

In March, all three candidates passed the first phase of the selection process.

On April 6–7 all three were interviewed by 22 deputies from CoE member states, who concluded that none of the candidates had been appropriately prepared to serve as a judge at the Court in Strasbourg. The Parliamentary Assembly has asked the Albanian government to submit a new list of candidates.

This is the second time that the Parliamentary Assembly of the CoE has rejected the proposals for the seat in the ECtHR. In September 2016, Genti Ibrahimi, Sokol Berberi, and Ina Rama had been rejected.

The refusal en bloc of an entire list happens rarely in the election procedure of a new ECtHR judge, and it is only the second time in the history of the CoE that an entire list has been rejected twice. The only other case is that of Azerbaijan, which managed to get a judge elected through a third proposal. In the last decade only the lists of Slovenia, Turkey, and Bulgaria have been rejected once.

The rejection of Sokol Berberi and Aurela Anastasi, who worked on the judicial reform, and Ina Rama, which qualified herself as candidate for one of the three vetting institutions, throws additional doubts on the judicial reform and the quality of the legislation that was enacted as a part of.